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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016 Oct;116(10):2025-34. doi: 10.1007/s00421-016-3456-1. Epub 2016 Aug 25.

The effects of different aerobic exercise intensities on serum serotonin concentrations and their association with Stroop task performance: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular and Cellular Sport Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933, Cologne, Germany. p.zimmer@dshs-koeln.de.
2
Department of Molecular and Cellular Sport Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933, Cologne, Germany.
3
Hemostasiology and Pharmacology in the Hämostaseologicum Steglitz GmbH, Siemensstraße 27, 12247, Berlin, Germany.
4
Department of Preventive and Rehabilitative Sport Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933, Cologne, Germany.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Acute exercise improves selective aspects of cognition such as executive functioning. Animal studies suggest that some effects are based on exercise-induced alterations in serotonin (5-HT) secretion. This study evaluates the impact of different aerobic exercise intensities on 5-HT serum levels as well as on executive functioning considering 5-HT as a potential mediator.

METHODS:

121 young adults (23.8 ± 3.6 years) were examined in a randomized controlled trial including three exercise intervention (35 min) groups (low intensity, 45 % of the maximal heart rate (HRmax); moderate intensity, 65 % HRmax; high intensity, 85 % HRmax) and one control group. 5-HT levels and response inhibition (measured by a computerized Stroop test) were assessed pre- and post-intervention.

RESULTS:

There was a significant (p = 0.022) difference between groups regarding serum Δ5-HT levels. Post hoc tests indicated significant (p = 0.013) higher 5-HT serum levels for the high-intensity group compared to the control group while other groups did not differ significantly from each other. Serum Δ5-HT levels and exercise intensity were shown to be linearly associated through polynomial contrast analysis (p = 0.003). Furthermore, ANOVA revealed a significant difference for Stroop parameter reading (p = 0.030) and a tendency for reverse Stroop effect (p = 0.061). Correlation analysis showed that augmented 5-HT levels were associated with improved results in response inhibition.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study indicates that intensive acute exercise increases serum 5-HT levels compared to a control group. These findings might be relevant for many other related research fields in exercise science, since 5-HT receptors are expressed on many different cell types including endothelia and immune cells.

KEYWORDS:

5HT; Cognition; Executive function; Exercise; Physical activity; Serotonin

PMID:
27562067
DOI:
10.1007/s00421-016-3456-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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